Entrepreneurship & Strategy, 2006
Success starts here. Ted Rogers School alumni are making waves in the business world, landing positions at leading organizations and starting their own companies. They value their time at our school as the place where they learned important skills, gained valuable experience and built a network that would help them in their careers, and have also used their expertise and success to support others.
Thanks to the connections students make at the Ted Rogers School and the relevant skills they gain, three graduates from different programs and years now work together at the same company.
Kevin Callahan (Entrepreneurship & Strategy, 2006), Razib Ahmed (Marketing Management, 2010) and Abdullah Memon (Business Technology Management, 2019) all work on the same team at MedChart, a company which digitizes and simplifies the request and release of health information. One of the underlying threads that brought them together was Ted Rogers School’s Product Management Bootcamp.
In 2019, Callahan, who was working as the Head of Global Business Development Strategy and Operations at Twitter, pitched the idea of a Product Management course to the school. This evolved into the Product Management Prep Program (PMPP) for Bootcamps. He brought in his friend Ahmed, who was working in the field, to help develop the program.
Memon entered the picture when he enrolled in Callahan and Ahmed’s first Product Management Bootcamp. He was a BTM Co-op student at the time. “This Bootcamp was a perfect opportunity to formalize my learnings and meet a lot of smart, talented people in Product roles at some of the most admired companies in the world,” he says.
Since graduating, Memon has worked in both Product Management and Design roles, and says the skills he acquired from this Bootcamp have been foundational to his career. Coincidentally, he landed his first job after graduating at PureFacts Financial Solutions working on the same Product team with Ahmed.
In March 2021, Ahmed left PureFacts to join MedChart as a Product Manager. When he was building his team, he hired Memon in June to work as a Product Designer. And coincidentally, just a few months after that, Callahan joined the company’s San Francisco office as their Head of Product & Design.
Memon says that it was incredible meeting Ahmed and Callahan through the Bootcamp and learning from their knowledge and experiences, and now he has the opportunity to work with them day to day.
Ahmed says that growing up, he was taught that to build a strong community, you have to give back. “I genuinely believe we have some tremendous talent coming out of the Ted Rogers School,” he points out. “I take pride in sharing my experiences and the knowledge that I have acquired to help someone find their path because it strengthens our community.”
I take pride in sharing my experiences and the knowledge that I have acquired to help someone find their path because it strengthens our community.
Marketing Management, 2010
Ted Rogers MBA graduate Daniel Bokun (MBA, 2015) has always been interested in pushing technology to create change. His company MOVE Network is helping to do that by solving the problem of ownership for creatives.
MOVE Network is the largest non-fungible token (NFT) aggregator which allows enterprises and start-ups to capture value by using blockchain technologies. NFTs have made headlines in recent years when graphic or video images created by artists have generated huge interest and high valuations through their status as NFTs.
The company provides internet protocol (IP) creators with ultimate control over their assets, security and peace of mind for transactions done on the MOVE Market – where exclusive content can be bought, sold and traded by end-users using cryptographic token assets across a multitude of IP categories, including entertainment, music, artwork and sports.
“Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I had the privilege of being surrounded by industry experts and founders in the crypto/blockchain sector. I’ve always wanted to look for ways to push technology to create change,” explains Bokun. “Solving the problem of ownership for creatives is one way that I believe MOVE is helping create change. Allowing transparency through the use of blockchain so that artists are rewarded for their work in a recurring manner can be translated throughout industries.”
Bokun says the Ted Rogers MBA program assisted him in his entrepreneurial journey because it provided a network of support – whether coming from professors or classmates during and after the MBA program. “Being around like-minded individuals looking to better themselves is something I will cherish,” he says.
He also appreciated the case studies he worked on in the program. “Working collaboratively during this process has helped me as a Founder and President of a 15+ team situated in both Hong Kong and North America,” Bokun points out.
Business Technology Management alumnus Kartik Balasundaram was all smiles after his appearance on the hit CBC show Dragons’ Den, securing a deal for an app that provides free dental checkups.
With the SnapSmile app, which Balasundaram (BComm, 2019) co-founded with his friends, users upload images of their teeth with their smartphone, and a dentist-trained AI model assesses the images, labels dental issues and provides personalized recommendations.
Balasundaram and one of the co-founders presented their idea to the Dragons – a panel of business investors – on a December 2021 episode. The pair left the Den having made a deal with tech entrepreneur Michelle Romanow worth $75,000 for 20% of their company.
The idea for the app came about because Balasundaram grew up without dental insurance. A chip in his tooth progressed to him needing a root canal, and it cost him $2,400 out of pocket. He went in for a check-up when the pain was unbearable, and the dentist told him that this issue could have been prevented if he had come in for his dental visits.
After venting to his friends (now co-founders), they realized that there has to be a better, cheaper and faster way to connect patients to a dentist outside of a dental clinic.
Balasundaram’s friends Navine Manivannan (a software engineer) and Myooran Nadesan (a CPA, CA, with experience working with companies in the dental industry) got together and built an app that allows users to get an instant, free and personalized oral care report from their smartphones. Users upload a few images of their teeth, and the AI model scans these images. In the first few months after launch, they had over 5,000 users.
Balasundaram was thrilled to secure a deal on Dragons’ Den and notes that the skills he learned and opportunities he had at the Ted Rogers School helped to get him to where he is now.
In 2018, he entered the Slaight New Venture Competition at the school and won for his product Scuto. “With the help of the individuals that ran the Startup Certified Program, I was able to gain invaluable knowledge about building a company, which provided me with the foundational skill set I needed to get to this point,” Balasundaram says.
Balasundaram plans to continue to focus on improving how people take care of their smiles with his co-founders. “I’m excited and fortunate to be able to pursue a venture that has real potential to positively impact communities across the world,” he says.
With the help of the individuals that ran the Startup Certified Program, I was able to gain invaluable knowledge about building a company, which provided me with the foundational skill set I needed to get to this point.
Business Technology Management, 2019
Being physically uncomfortable in their own underwear, Entrepreneurship & Strategy graduate Jaymin Luces-Mendes used the skills they learned at the Ted Rogers School to launch their own undergarment brand called Toni Marlow.
Described as an undergarment brand for people who menstruate, Toni Marlow undergarments serve the needs of gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ folks. “Fashion started to do unisex clothing as a trend, but it wasn’t truly unisex, it was just baggy clothes on women,” says Luces-Mendes (BComm, 2014).
“Fashion was never the initial idea; I was interested in business,” says Luces-Mendes. “Entrepreneurship is my joy.”
Mid-semester in their first year at Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University), Luces-Mendes switched from a Bachelor of Arts into Ted Rogers School’s Entrepreneurship program. “I struggled in school because I had undiagnosed ADHD, but I also loved the structure. I did night school courses in math to be able to get into a business [program].”
In addition to coursework, Luces-Mendes says that working in the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation “fostered” their entrepreneurial spirit. They also credit resources available to those interested in starting their own ventures, including the Fashion Zone and the DMZ, where Luces-Mendes was supported through their Black Innovation Program.
Initially, Toni Marlow’s target customer was an individual assigned female at birth, between 18-45 years of age and menstruating. Luces-Mendes recalls a shift somewhere around 2018, when cisgender folks who were hesitant became more open. “When we first started in 2015, there were no other companies doing what we did in Canada, but [since then] the industry has accepted they need to be more inclusive.”
Community is at the heart of Toni Marlow, including its efforts to support suicide prevention in the LGBTQ+ community. “Since the day we launched, we have donated a dollar per product sold to suicide prevention at Friends of Ruby,” they said.
After taking roles in the advertising and non-profit sectors following graduation, Marketing Management alumnus Ganesh Thava used the skills he learned at the Ted Rogers School to take on roles in entertainment.
Thava (BComm, 2017) now works as a full-time actor, writer and director. He has appeared in community theatre, television and film – including Disney Channel’s film Spin and the TLN TV show King vs King vs King – and has written original plays and directed and produced his own theatre and film projects.
As much as he loved working at an advertising agency after university, he always wanted more autonomy in his life. This was when he rediscovered his passion for theatre and acting and reapproached it, but now with a business degree under his belt. When he began training and putting himself out there, he realized being an artist is essentially running a business.
“Being a proactive artist means being a producer, specifically a self-producer,” says Thava. “Every day as an artist trying to make a living off my art, I need to know how to run my career like a business and break even at the bare minimum.”
Thava has also helped support other artists with their business plans. Between his time in advertising and becoming a full-time artist, he worked as the Manager of Programs at the York Region Arts Council (YRAC). While working with local artists, he saw that a common thread was a lack of business skills.
“As someone with a business degree, who was also passionate about the arts and culture sector, I enjoyed connecting with these artists, assessing their business needs and providing them with the tools, knowledge and resources to support their art practice,” explains Thava. After leaving the YRAC, he continued to manage a consulting practice for artists on the side.
Every day as an artist trying to make a living off my art, I need to know how to run my career like a business and break even at the bare minimum.
Marketing Management, 2017
With the increasing importance of community care across healthcare systems, the Master of Health Administration (Community Care) program at the Ted Rogers School addresses the critical need for leaders who know how to negotiate and manage care delivery across networks of provider organizations to a range of clients and families.
The program, which launched in Fall 2018 and is the first of its kind in Canada, is producing graduates who are making a difference in our community.
Ashley Kim (2020)
Program Manager of Your Health Space, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario
Olya Vovnysh (2021)
Chief Executive Officer, Ivan Franko Homes
Alanna Scott (2022)
Chief Development and Marketing Officer, Casey House Foundation
Cathy Slevin (2022)
Director of Regional Programs, Lakeridge Health
Armed with the strength, skills and strategic know-how gained at university, Ted Rogers School graduate Nella Brodett and her sister were one of 10 teams battling it out on the CTV reality TV show The Amazing Race Canada in summer 2022.
The duo – who call themselves “Franella” – were the show’s first Filipino Canadian team. They finished third in the competition.
Brodett studied Law and Business at Ted Rogers School from 2012-2015. She was also captain of the university’s first varsity women’s ice hockey team and even established Rams Talk – a mental health resilience and support award for athletes.
To participate on the show, Brodett had to pause her role as Director of Partnerships in health innovation. It’s a position she credits to her university experience.
“I was able to launch my career in tech and innovation after having worked with the DMZ, and from being very connected to the previous president of the university, Sheldon Levy, who is one of my mentors,” she said.
Whether through hockey or extracurriculars, Brodett adds, “When I was at TMU, I found that I loved just connecting with people. It showed me the power of genuine relationships. Now, I’m seeing that in the stakeholder management and partnership side of things – and I think that’s reflected in our strategy on the Race as well.”
While they competed for a grand prize of $250,000, a pickup truck and a trip around the world during the Race, the pair also wanted to give back. When the show aired each week, the sisters gathered with friends and family for a viewing party that supported a charity. During the show’s duration, they supported such charities as the Indigenous Life Sport Academy, the rescue dog organization Alberta Homeward Hound and The Golf Society.
Members of the Ted Rogers School have received numerous awards and accolades which has raised our reputation
Giving back improves the lives of those in communities, both inside and outside the campus